Review: Headhunters

Written by: Colin McCracken

While you may not have heard of Headhunters, it is entirely imaginable that you will be very familiar with it by the end of the year.

Aksel Hennie (A Norwegian Steve Buscemi) plays Roger Brown, a headhunter for Pathfinder whose job it is to locate the finest and most powerful men in the country for his beloved firm. In his spare time, however, he is an art thief, and a rather accomplished one at that.

Headhunters DVD coverHis excursions into the criminal underworld have brought him moderate wealth, but with a demanding and somewhat materialistic wife (the statuesque Synnøve Macody Lund) Diana, he finds it hard to keep her in the lifestyle of which she has become both accustomed and fond. Finding himself paying out ever-increasing percentages to his associates (such as the hilarious security expert/maniac; Ove, played by Eivind Sander), he decides that he needs to up his game and aim higher than he has been so far.

Enter Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who eagle eyed viewers will recognise as the delectable villain Jamie Lannister from HBO’s sublime Game of Thrones series. Greve is a decorated military veteran who now works for a security firm known as HOTE. They meet through Diana’s new art gallery and Brown is made aware of an original Ruebens painting which Greve has in his possession.

This is where I will leave the summary and, even in doing so, I have merely given a very brief introduction to this movie. What follows is a marvellously fresh and original thriller which harkens back to the days of The French Connection and The Conversation, whilst simultaneously remaining contemporary and striking.

The performances on all fronts are spectacular, with Hennie managing to pull off the most difficult of acting traits; remaining both repulsive and sympathetic all at once. Coster-Waldau sets himself up as a leading man to be reckoned with and the female characters are equally strong and believable.

There is a healthy dose of well-balanced black humour in Headhunters, but never to the extent that it detracts from the tension which is generated. There are several highly visceral and gory scenes of violence, but they are all contextually justified. With a final act that absolutely surpasses all expectations, Headhunters has definitely made my Movies of the Year list of 2012.

News of an English-speaking remake has already broken and so I urge to you see this before it becomes a diluted shadow of itself in the attempt to reach a wider audience.

Buy Headhunters on DVD here.

Author: Colin McCracken

Colin McCracken is an Irish writer and cinematic obsessive who writes extensively about movies on a daily basis over at his website He is equally passionate about vinyl (he used to run an independent record store), literature, live music and film soundtracks. He also writes for John Robb’s Louder Than War. He can be found regularly on Twitter on @zombiehamster.

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